Gumbee Fantasy Writers ‘do’ Peril and tension: Number 7, Sandra Giles

I’ve never been the organised type, so I’m afraid this is going to be a rushed piece from me. Not the writing itself, but the choice of which scene to use. The below portion was taken from A Lost Fantasy, and was the first that came to mind when I thought of peril and tension. Now I’m not one to drag things out, so any tension built is usually short-lived. This is probably the only piece where that’s not true. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride, to be honest. This portion of the novel switches between three issues. One is the decapitation and rehabilitation of Aled’s love-interest, Leah. Another is the terrible timing of Ella going into labour, which is shown in-part below. The third point is the appearance of two vampires who have been out to hurt Aled from the very beginning. Oh, Aled is my main character in this book. I usually provide pieces from Jared’s novels, but thought it was time to introduce my lovely doctor into the mix. He’s generally much more likeable, so when I shove him into horrible situations there tends to be a lot more sympathy for the guy. He handles this situation pretty well. He keeps a cool head and is able to guide his pack (yes, he’s a werewolf) through it all, though I won’t say whether he is successful. This piece shows him trapped with the majority of his pack whilst another member betrays him by helping the vampires. The aim of the vampires is to torment the pack by bringing Ella’s baby into the world and then destroying it in front of them all, whilst possibly killing the mother. It’s not really made clear, but they are all terrified. That fits nicely with the theme of peril and tension, right? I sure hope so!

Through the door came Summer, looking petrified at what was happening, yet determinedly avoiding all of our eyes. With her was Ella, bound and bleeding from the knife hilt protruding from her waist. Beside me Mark let out a whimper through his gag.

“That was quick,” Acacia said, looking over the bleeding form as she was lowered to the ground. Unluckily for Ella, she was still conscious. Her eyes sought us and tears fell rapidly down her face. I could see the hope diminishing from her eyes and could do nothing to rekindle it.

“She was here already,” Summer said. “I had to strike her quickly because she took me by surprise. I don’t think the baby’s dead.”

“Perfect,” Ambrose said happily. “Now they can watch it die.”

“I’m not getting it out! Won’t it be enough to stab her again?”

“No.”

“Don’t worry,” Acacia said, “she’s close to delivering. Can’t you smell it?” Summer shook her head. “Maybe wolves aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.”

“So what do I do?” Summer asked anxiously.

“Just wait for nature to take its course. What was she doing here anyway? Was it an ambush?”

“I don’t think so. She just wanted to help.”

“Is that so?” Acacia approached Ella and retrieved the gag from her mouth. “Did you come to help us?”

“No,” Ella spat. “I would never help you. Summer, why are you doing this? You chose to leave, didn’t you?” For a moment Ella’s eyes flickered to me, obviously under the impression I had lied.

“Yes,” Summer said quietly. “And I’m glad I did. You’re all sadistic.”

“You’re in no position to call us that,” Ella said angrily. She opened her mouth to continue, but instead her head pivoted backwards and she clenched her hands into fists. Mark moved uneasily, but I tried to hold him back. It was useless considering the circumstances, but still I tried. The best I could do was move my body in front of his. When Ella was sitting normally once more, the tension in Mark’s body was released.

“What happened?” Summer asked.

“Contraction,” Ella panted. “They come and go.” She seemed to realise who had asked and suddenly became angry. “Why? Are you that eager to get this baby out of me? Well, you’re going to have to wait because they’re not that regular yet, so piss off and leave me be.”

The room went quiet as everyone watched Ella. The vampires were looking eager at the prospect of the baby arriving, whereas Summer looked slightly sick. I didn’t blame her. I was feeling green myself.

I used the distraction of Ella’s next contraction to move into the centre of the group within the cage. The others moved aside to let me past, all trying to shift subtly. Despite everything, I couldn’t help but feel strong affection for the pack. They could have stood stubbornly in my path, ensuring that I was up front and liable to get hurt if the vampires decided to attack, but they trusted that I wasn’t leaving them to take pain for me. They had enough faith in me to put themselves in the line of fire, and trusted that I could help them. It was in their eyes, and it was that more than anything that made me more determined to get everybody out of this. Including Summer.

The gag in my mouth was hard to dislodge, but it wasn’t impossible. It was just a matter of manoeuvring my head against the bound hands of Joshua, who was closest. He tried to work with me to pull the gag out, but it was difficult for him to do much more than move his hands slightly to one side or the other. After some time of this, he stopped, realising that it wasn’t helping.

I had never played hook-a-duck as a child, but figured this was much like that game in some ways. There were only a couple of places on my gag that would allow something as large as Joshua’s smallest finger into the space, and it was very difficult to achieve what was needed. After much meandering and deliberation I was able to hook part of the fabric and pull backwards. Joshua stumbled slightly, and the vampires looked over to see what had caused it.

There was no way to hide the fact I had removed the gag, so the best I could do was work quickly at freeing Joshua’s hands. I couldn’t do my own, and his were nearest.

“Keep at it and I’ll cut the throat of this pretty thing,” Acacia said. I straightened up to see Olivia being held vast in Acacia’s hands, the edge of a small blade digging into her flesh. Naturally, I stopped gnawing at Joshua’s bonds.

“Good boy,” she said, smiling. “Do it again and there’ll be no warning. I like my blood pure, but will make an exception here.”

A series of growls issued from my surrounding pack. The knife dug in a little deeper.

“Stop it,” I said. “Don’t give her an excuse to hurt us.”

The growling stopped and Acacia let go of Olivia. Oliver’s eyes narrowed as his sister gasped behind her gag, but he made no attempt to resume the pointless growling.

“It must be nice to be in complete control of your pups,” Ambrose said. “Can you make them do parlour tricks?”

“As long as he keeps his mouth shut, I don’t care what he can do,” Acacia said. “One word from you and I’ll answer the age-old question; are werewolves immortal?”

Ella moaned as another contraction swept through her. Ambrose looked on in delight, but Acacia was too busy watching us to enjoy the moment. We were running out of time.

“Summer?” I said, taking a step forward so that the pack could move closer to safety.

“I’m warning you,” Acacia said, her voice far from angry. She was loving every moment of this.

“Get the knife,” I said, not taking my eyes away from the vampire before me.

“I already have it,” Acacia said. “Are you that eager for me to use it?”

She let out a roar of frustration as Summer tumbled into her. I had hoped for a more subtle approach, but it was the best we were going to get. Summer came away from Acacia with the knife in hand and blood spilling from a cut on her cheek.

“Now keep hold of it,” I instructed. “Be as mad as you want at us, but do not use it on any member of your pack. That knife is purely for the vampires, understand?”

Summer nodded, but the hatred in her eyes was directed at me and not the vampires.

Ambrose stood in the centre of the room looking utterly stunned, whilst Acacia was regaining her swagger ready for the next attack.

“You little bitch, you double crossed us,” Acacia said.

“No I didn’t, I swear!” Summer said. “He’s controlling me.”

“You left the pack. He can’t control you.”

“Actually, she never officially left,” I said. “And even if she had, I never would have sought to hurt her. None of us would. Well, maybe Hannah, but it wouldn’t be anything too extreme.” Summer actually smiled, albeit weakly. “Now, drive the knife into Acacia’s throat and don’t stop until she’s unconscious.”

Summer looked petrified at the very thought, but did as was told nonetheless. Acacia barely defended herself against the oncoming attack, too taken aback. The two women fell to the ground and Ambrose stood and gawped at the fight. The knife was jolting out of Acacia’s neck, but the vampire was still fighting fit. Summer was driving the knife further and further into the wound whilst Acacia tried desperately to dislodge both the knife and Summer. She tried to say something, probably a demand aimed at Ambrose, but her mouth filled with blood. Ambrose looked on with something close to lust on his face.

“Summer, move!” I shouted. She managed to get out of the way a moment before Ambrose struck. I had been wrong to think he was aiming to hurt Summer, as the only thing on his mind seemed to be food. He pulled the knife out of Acacia’s neck and began to drink from the wound. Even as the female vampire took in her final breaths, the feeding didn’t slow. The blood must have been truly irresistible if he was able to make room for it that hadn’t been there for Oliver’s.

“Stamp on his head,” I said, more as a suggestion than a demand. Summer did so, knocking him off Acacia and onto the ground. She continued to pulverise his head into the ground until I instructed her to stop. His skull had collapsed into itself slightly and blood poured from somewhere between his head and the ground.

Before either Summer or I could be congratulated for our ‘team effort’, a moan from Ella brought everyone’s attention pivoting back to her. Not even a gasp could be finished before she slumped to the ground, unconscious. More blood encircled her than any of the vampires.

I’ll leave it there seeing as it’s a nice cliff-hanger and the end of the chapter. The following pages follow the progress of Aled’s attempts to bring new life into the world whilst ensuring that Ella’s isn’t lost in the process. I won’t say how that pans out for the pack, but let’s just say it’s not exactly smooth-sailing ahead.

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